Two years ago I met Kobi Skolnick who soon became one of my closest friends. Since then we worked together tirelessly to make a positive difference in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Recently we launched ConflictingPeace.com to highlight our joint projects.
Kobi’s story is similar to mine. He was born into a Hasidic family in Israel and moved to a settlement in the West Bank during his high school years. He was a member of the fundamentalist Kahana youth movement that promoted Jewish power and regularly encouraged its members to assault Palestinians. However, during his service in the Israeli army he became aware of the complexity of the conflict and began to open his mind to other perspectives.
Today, Kobi is highly involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace movement. In his work, he draws on his experience of having lived in an ultra-religious Jewish community and his former membership in settler movements. His extensive medical training and experience in combat also influences his understandings of human psychology and physiology. Kobi has an educational background in biology, psychology, and religion. He is also trained in Nonviolent Communication. He has lectured and facilitated for various international organizations and universities, such as Stanford, Yale, Harvard, American University, and Oberlin, and has also appeared on several radio programs.
Together we work to demonstrate that partnerships across the divide of entrenched conflicts, when based in dialogue and mutual respect, can help build new ways of coexisting together within communities. We know first-hand the injuries caused by conflict, and have paid dearly for it through the loss of loved ones. At the same time, we know the healing that working towards peace can bring. Through our work, we hope to build new bridges between Jews, Muslims and Christians and inspire less polarized perspectives in relation to the conflict in Israel and Palestine.